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Civic Arena May be Spared Until Summer

By Jeremy Boren
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pittsburgh could be deep into summer by the time an effort to save the Civic Arena is settled.

The Historic Review Commission is expected Jan. 5 to review a nomination to dub the 49-year-old, silver-domed arena a historic structure, a designation that would protect it from the wrecking ball.

The commission’s public hearing on the nomination is scheduled for Feb. 2, with a final vote set for March 2. All meetings are open to the public. The final decision by Pittsburgh City Council might not occur until late August depending on how the process plays out.

Penguins officials want the arena to be demolished to make way for a mix of retail, residential and office development on a 28-acre site.

The city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns the arena, approved the demolition in September.

The city Planning Commission approved demolition in a unanimous vote Nov. 22. Advocates attempting to save the arena immediately nominated it as a historic structure, which means it can’t be demolished during the review process.

“(Our) goal has always been to find a economically viable community-based reuse plan, not to delay demolition,” said Rob Pfaffmann, an architect who heads Reuse the Igloo, a grassroots group that helped draft the nomination.

In this case, the Planning and Historic Review commissions make only recommendations to City Council.

The commissions’ recommendations must be made within five months of nomination. Council must hold a public hearing and take a final vote within 120 days of receiving those nominations, according to city code.

If each group takes the maximum amount of time, council wouldn’t vote until August.

The SEA had planned to demolish the arena in April.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633